Political Violence: There'll be no Sacred Cows, says Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan has warned prominent citizens sponsoring political violence across the country to desist from doing so or face the full wrath of the law.
Speaking at a presidential debate organised by Nigerian Electoral Debate Group (NEDG) where he was the only participant, President Jonathan said those funding political violence no matter how highly placed would be prosecuted.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Nuhu Ribadu, and Shekarau boycotted the debate in retaliation, because President Jonathan did not attend the NN24 debate.
Also, contrary to a blog report that the organizers leaked some questions to the Jonathan's camp, none of the questions cited in that report came up at the event.
Some of the questions allegedly leaked to the President are 1. Your emergence as PDP presidential candidate was mired in controversy as a result of the conflicting interpretations of your party's zoning and rotation principles: do you not carry a moral burden?
2. When you talk of “transformation” what are you really saying to Nigerians?
3. The Nigerian economy seems to be in the grip of an unending crisis, characterized by a poor growth rate, low capacity utilization, unimpressive direct foreign investments, bank failures and now a rapidly weakening naira. Is the situation redeemable?
4. The complex of infrastructure in Nigeria is allegedly notoriously inefficient, inadequate, underdeveloped, derelict and neglected. Its all the noise about power not just hype?
5. What is your programme for taking the Nigerian Railways, roads, marine and air transportation into the 21st century?
6. Employment is one area of crisis. 80% of Nigerian school leavers/graduates do not get jobs for years after graduation. What will your government do to cure this dangerous scourge?
7. With Boko Haram in Bauchi and Borno States, endless killings in Jos, bombings everywhere, kidnappings in the South-East and armed robbers operating with impunity everywhere. Could it not be said that your Government has lost grip of the management of security in the country?
According to the blog, the questions and possible responses were contained in a correspondence between the Economic Adviser, Kassey Garba, and the Agriculture minister, Ahmed Abdulahi.
He said he had ordered the security agencies to fish out those perpetrating violence including senior citizens, who will be made to face the consequences of their action without any form of interference from his government.
“Security agencies are working to ensure that we have a violent-free election. Senior citizens sponsoring violence will not be spared. I will not interfere. If you commit any crime, you will go in for it. There will be no sacred cows”, he said.
Jonathan, who also explained his absence from the presidential debate organized by a DSTV television news channel, NN24 on the ground that he was engaged in an official duty, also pledged to fix the nation's power sector which he said would stimulate economic growth and create millions of employment for the unemployed.
The President said his experience as former deputy governor, governor, vice-president, acting president and president puts him in a better position to tackle the affairs of state more than other presidential candidates.
On corruption, he said he would, in the next four years, if elected, strengthen the anti-corruption agencies in the pursuit of their constitutional responsibilities promising not to interfere in the investigations of anti-graft agencies and pledged to encourage capacity building of the agencies.
On the state of the country's refineries, President Jonathan said government was engaging the private sector to ensure that the refineries are optimally functional. A firm, Green Field Refineries, a product of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), was already discussing with private sector players with a view to building refineries.
In view of this, he said his government, would, in the next four years, encourage building community-based refineries to avert cases of oil bunkering as well as medium and large scale refineries.
“Until we are in a position to refine locally we cannot be proud of our selves. Refineries are working presently at 60 percent installed capacity. We want the private sector. Green Field Refineries, a subsidiary of NNPC is talking with the private sector players and we encourage the private sector to get involved”, he said.
President Jonathan also faulted claims of lack of budget implementation on the part of his government blaming the trend on the late passage of budgets by the National Assembly.
On the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill recently passed by two chambers of the National Assembly, he said he would sign the bill when it gets to his table.
He said his administration had maintained a cordial relationship with the media stating that he had not intimidated or harassed media organizations.
“I am one of the best friends of the media. I have not harassed or closed down any media organization irrespective of the fact that we may not smile with most of the stories. FOI bill has not come to me. I will have no reservation than to endorse it except there are one or two things to be adjusted”, he said.
He said his government, when elected, would ensure 35 per cent participation of women in his cabinet, ad hoc committees, and the armed forces.
On job creation, he said a committee headed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, would next week unveil an employment plan which his administration would adopt to create jobs even as he said government was engaging banks and other private sector players to build hostels and laboratories for tertiary institutions.